Network News: September 10-16

In the Spotlight: Collaboration Increases Reach

We have high hopes for StateImpact Florida's new partnership with the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting. Their work has already been featured in outlets across the state.

This week’s top story is part of a hard-hitting series on the country’s largest online education company and was born of a new collaboration between StateImpact Florida and the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting, a nonprofit, digital bilingual investigative outlet. We’re excited about the work the two teams have already done together and potential the collaboration holds for future endeavors.

FCIR reporter Trevor Aaronson says that the collaboration is part of a growing shift away from a purely competitive to a more collaborative media environment–one that is happening on both the national and the local stage. Larger outlets like ProPublica and NPR have made the shift visible. But the trend is just as salient among smaller, local start-ups like StateImpact and FCIR, which are nimble enough to delve into tips or breaking news with an investigative eye, thereby expanding the breadth and reach of both organizations’ work.

“Between John and me and Scott Finn, we’re able to get the story on WUSF in Tampa, WLRN in Miami and nearly every major newspaper in the state,” he said. “Five years ago that was inconceivable.”

StateImpact Florida’s John O’Connor elaborates:

John O'Connor/ StateImpact Florida

The partnership has two goals: We help bring education expertise to Trevor’s investigative work; and we can get FCIR/StateImpact Florida stories on air across the state in addition to getting stories published by the Miami Herald, the Associated Press, the Lakeland Ledger and the Ocala Star-Banner.

One of the lessons is the value of two small, agile and independent partners. We’ve found newspapers have some institutional inertia against working with us on other stories. They like to have control over the reporting and editing of the story.

Likewise, neither StateImpact Florida nor FCIR face the pressure of daily deadlines so we’ve been able to take the time to develop follow-up stories. The one challenge we’ve found is that Florida newspapers are less likely to pick up the incremental follow-up stories, which may cause us to focus on more in-depth follow ups rather than worrying about daily developments.

Our partnership with FCIR doesn’t have any of those problems. Trevor has allowed WUSF news director Scott Finn to edit the stories, which means they read like other StateImpact Florida stories. And under the publishing agreement with FCIR, the papers agree to print the stories with few changes.  The partnership with FCIR has given us another channel to get StateImpact Florida work out to a larger audience and to do it more on our terms and in our voice.


We hope that more of you will seek out and test drive similar partnerships in your neck of the woods, if you haven’t already.

StateImpact Last Week’s Reader Faves

Most visited stories last week, in raw numbers:

  1. Florida: Florida Investigates K12, Nation’s Largest Online Educator
  2. Texas: Exxon Refinery in Baytown Releases Massive Amount of Chemicals
  3. PennsylvaniaPennsylvania’s Impact Fee Will Generate More Than $200 Million
  4. Ohio: Student Impersonates Teacher at Ohio Online School For More Than a Year
  5. Florida: Why Florida Teachers Cannot Strike the Way Chicago Teachers Can

Great policy-oriented, investigative work throughout the network this week, with a special nod to Molly Bloom of StateImpact Ohio, whose story (also on online education) was circulated far and wide, including on

Most visited content on each site, in order of popularity:

What does that mean? Well, we took the top post from each of your states, according to traffic. We adjusted those figures to reflect each state’s population and then ordered the results.

  1. Idaho: Idaho Education Department Disputes Funding Cuts Are Near The Top In The Nation
  2. Florida: Florida Investigates K12, Nation’s Largest Online Educator
  3. Oklahoma: Oil Billionaire Harold Hamm on Federal Tax Incentives: ‘No One Sent Me a Check’ 
  4. New Hampshire: Primary Crash Course: How Democratic Gov. Candidates Say They Would Rev-Up The Economy
  5. Ohio: Student Impersonates Teacher at Ohio Online School For More Than a Year
  6. PennsylvaniaPennsylvania’s Impact Fee Will Generate More Than $200 Million
  7. Texas: Exxon Refinery in Baytown Releases Massive Amount of Chemicals
  8. Indiana: Why Teachers Unions Aren’t Backing Democrats Quite As Reliably

Heard on National Air:

StateImpact Florida’s Sarah Gonzalez joined Talk of the Nation on Tuesday, September 11, as part of a larger conversation about corporal punishment in public schools, “Corporal Punishment In Schools: Does It Work?” Nineteen states have laws that allow corporal punishment in public schools, according to the Center for Effective Discipline.

Traffic Sources:





Search engines
Social media
Top search terms:

  • issue 2
  • khan academy
  • fracking
  • keystone pipeline
  • third grade guarantee
Top referrers:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • mobile Facebook
  • Google
  • Florida Trend
  • The Texas Tribune
Includes people who type in the URL or use a bookmark. Also includes referrals from mobile apps (eg Facebook iPhone app). Directed through email newsletters, etc.

Around the Network

Last week:

  • Jessica and Yan unveiled the new StateImpact Reporter’s Toolbox, which holds (almost) all of our important webinars, how-tos and other documentation–all in one place. We’ll be adding more content as we go. Check it out, though, next time you have a pressing platform or style question, or whenever you have time for a little professional development.
  • Chris Swope sent out his special election coverage guide (which was promptly added to above-mentioned toolbox). If you haven’t looked it over and started to plan your election coverage, there’s no time like mid-September to start. (Since it has some special resources and story ideas that we didn’t want to share with just anyone, you will need to log into your StateImpact site to access it. Let Jessica know if it doesn’t work for you.)

This week:

  • John Stefany gave a presentation on StateImpact to the Knight Foundation Leadership Conference in Washington (today). The 27 attendees represented 10 member stations and included news directors Dan Grech of StateImpact Florida and Emily Donahue of StateImpact Texas. They each talked about what the project had meant in their newsrooms.
  • This weekend, Lynette will be heading to the Online News Association conference to represent StateImpact at the awards dinner.
  • And we’ll continue the search for a new application developer to replace Chris Amico. Please pass the job posting along to any qualified applicants or networks where such a rare species might exist.

Thanks, everyone, for your great work this past week. Until next week –

Your editorial team,

Chris Swope, Jessica Pupovac, Ken Rudin & Becky Lettenberger

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